Anna Karenina and the Genetics of Complex Disease
Mary-Claire King is American Cancer Society Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. She was the first to prove that breast cancer is inherited in some families, as the result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1.
In addition to the inherited breast and ovarian cancer, King’s research interests include genetics of hearing loss, the genetic bases of schizophrenia, and human genetic diversity and evolution. She also pioneered the use of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations, developing the approach of sequencing mitochondrial DNA preserved in human remains, then applying this method to the identification of kidnapped children in Argentina and subsequently to cases of human rights violations on six continents.
King is president-elect of the American Society of Human Genetics. She has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to the Institute of Medicine, and as a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. She has received 13 honorary doctoral degrees, including from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton Universities.